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Artist’s brush to aid Emerald Fund

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Ray O’Hanlon

Millions of Americans remembered another stirring flag raising when they saw the now famous photo of three firefighters raising the Stars and Stripes at Ground Zero in lower Manhattan.

The image, first published on the cover of Newsweek, brought back memories of U.S. Marines raising the flag atop Mt. Suribachi on the Island of Iwo Jima in the closing months of World War II.

Now, St. Paul, Minn., artist Roger Conway has combined both images in a painting he calls “Enduring Freedom.”

Prints of the work are available for purchase with proceeds, minus Conway’s personal expenses, being donated to the Irish Echo’s Emerald Fund, which was set up in the aftermath of Sept. 11 to aid the families of Emerald Society members who lost their lives at the World Trade Center.

Money from early sales of the print have already been donated to the fund.

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Conway, whose Marine Corps brother Jack was killed on Iwo Jima, is a World War II veteran himself. After the war he served as a police officer in St. Paul and also on the County Council.

Painting has long been Conway’s escape though most of his work features landscape scenes in Ireland, where his family roots are in Counties Kilkenny and Wexford.

It was to be a very different kind of landscape, the grim swath that is ground zero, that prompted Roger’s brush in the days after Sept. 11.

According to his son Jim, Conway was unsure how to represent the enormity of the World Trade Center disaster until he saw the now famous firefighters and flag photograph.

It reminded him of Iwo Jima and his brother’s ultimate sacrifice. He set about combining two enduring images into one.

The result is both plain to see and not necessarily seen at first glance.

In the forefront of “Enduring Freedom” are the firefighters while behind them, in a representation of the smoke-choked aftermath of the Trade Center towers’ collapse, are the ghostly images of the flag raising Marines on Iwo Jima.

The painting is not just dedicated to the heroes of a bygone war and those of the recent tragedy in New York, but to all Americans who have paid the ultimate price for freedom.

Information on how to purchase “Enduring Freedom” can be obtained at www.rogerconway.freewebspace.com or by calling (651) 224-9597.

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